Archive for the ‘American Dream’ Category

This Must Not Stand!
October 6, 2013

This morning NPR/KQED did a program on the Vietnam Wall. I caught some of it. I get emotional over that time. People I knew died in that war. Their names stand on that massive black granite. That was my time, my youth. It sticks with me. It sticks in my throat. It brings tears to my eyes today. And I look at the country today and I think ‘What did they die for?’ Never mind that it was a misbegotten war. At bottom those men fought not against some vague Communist threat, but for a vision of America as a good, decent place where the ideal was equality and fairness for everyone, a place where everyone had a fair and just chance to make their life into whatever they wanted.

No more.

The country has become a cesspool of vile and ugly politics and greed and hatred. The politicians have sold their souls to the rich and the rich want everything else too. They want to live with their boot on the neck of the poor, of the workers, of the middle class. They degrade education so they won’t be challenged by people who can think, so they can provide a steady stream of mindless drones for their minimum wage jobs.

The men who died in Vietnam didn’t die so the Koch brothers and their kind could turn America into a fascist fantasyland. They didn’t die for Exxon to pollute the land and the air and the water for obscene profits. They didn’t die for a bunch of Tea Party ignoramuses and bigots to corrupt the political process with their ignorance and hatred.

But that’s where we are today. It is disgusting. This isn’t the America any soldier died for. This is an America of lies and greed and deceit. This is an America whose vision has been corrupted by small-minded men and women who trade in lies and greed and deceit to feather their own nests at the expense of every working man and woman, of every man and woman struggling to make a good and decent life for their family, of every man and woman battling for a decent education and a fair chance to build the life they want.

This is an America whose vision has been corrupted by hatred, by racism, by bigotry against the poor and the disadvantaged, by the hatred, the racism, and the bigotry of a small group of politicians and rich men who care nothing for the country and whose every thought they direct at taking everything they can get their manicured, soft hands on, taking everything they can from the poor, from the workers, from the people who made it possible for the rich to wallow in their excesses of wealth.

This cannot stand.

It must not stand.

If it stands there will be blood in the streets, there will be wailing in the nights, there will be a genuine war that will make the bloodbath of the American Civil War look like a picnic, the draft riots of that time like afternoon tea on the lawn, and from abroad people of other nations will see an America writhing in madness and insanity. And all so a few people, a handful of rich people and their kneeling servants in Congress, in every political system in America, can get for themselves more, and more, and more.

This cannot stand.

It must not stand.

It must not.

In the name of every man and woman who has died or been torn up fighting for a proud vision of a free and democratic America, this must not stand.

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USA! USA! We’re Number One! We’re Number One!
September 6, 2012

Among industrialized nations, the United States has the

  • highest poverty rate, both generally and for children;
  • greatest inequality of incomes;
  • lowest government spending as a percentage of GDP on social programs for the disadvantaged;
  • lowest average number of days for paid holiday, annual leaves, and maternity leaves;
  • lowest score on the United Nations index of “material well-being of children”;
  • worst score on the United Nations gender inequality index;
  • lowest social mobility;
  • highest public and private expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP

These trends are accompanied by the

  • highest infant mortality rate;
  • highest prevalence of mental health problems;
  • highest obesity rate;
  • highest proportion of population going without health care due to cost;
  • second-lowest birth-weight for children per capita, behind only Japan;
  • highest consumption of antidepressants per capita;
  • third-shortest life expectancy at birth, behind only Denmark and Portugal;
  • highest carbon dioxide emissions and water consumption per capita;
  • second-lowest score on the World Economic Forum’s environmental performance index, behind only Belgium;
  • third-largest ecological footprint per capita, behind only Belgium and Denmark;
  • highest rate of failure to ratify international agreements;
  • lowest spending on international development and humanitarian assistance as a percentage of GDP;
  • highest military spending as a portion of GDP;
  • largest international arms sales;
  • fourth-worst balance of payments, behind only New Zealand, Spain, and Portugal;
  • third-lowest scores for student performance in math, behind only Portugal and Italy, and far from the top in both science and reading;
  • second-highest high-school dropout rate, behind only Spain;
  • highest homicide rate;
  • largest prison population per capita.

From Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco: 2012, Nation Books.

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What the Right Really Believes…
May 29, 2012

What follows is the complete text of an email I received recently.

This really is priceless!!

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away"

THE FIRE CHIEF SAID..PRICELESS

The Fire Chief Said…

For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.
Not fair to make judgment of this, until you see what the Fire Chief says!!!!

In South Los Angeles , a 4-plex home was destroyed by a fire.

A Mexican family of six, all welfare recipients and gang members,
Lived on the first floor, they died.

An Islamic group of seven welfare cheats,
All illegally in the country from Kenya , lived on the second floor,
And they, too, all perished in the fire.

6 LA, Hispanic, Gang Bangers, & ex-cons,
Lived on the 3rd floor and they, too, died.

A lone, white couple lived on the top floor.
The couple survived the fire.

Jesse Jackson, John Burris and Al Sharpton were furious!!
They flew into LA and met with the fire chief, on camera.
They loudly demanded to know,
Why the Blacks, Black Muslims and Hispanics,
All died in the fire and why only the White couple lived?

The Fire Chief said,
"They were at work"

This has just got to keep on circulating… it’s too good…

This is how the right wing thinks. This is Tea Party. This is Republican conservatism. This is the heart of the modern Republican party.

Nineteen people burned to death in a house fire. None of them were white. The white people survived because they were at work.

Nineteen people burned to death.

And that’s funny. Because they weren’t white. Because their lives were different. Because they were, what, morally defective?

But the white couple? Apparently very virtuous. They were at work, of some kind.

This is virulently racist stereotyping. It’s the sort of thing that serves to confirm the beliefs of the shallow ‘thinkers’ on the right.

It’s the sort of thing that leads to concentration camps and furnaces, all run by the ‘right people’, the good people, the moral people, the people who think it funny that nineteen people burned to death in a house fire.

And it is the sort of thing that appears to be very popular on the right. The party of Boehner. Of Palin. Of Kantor. Of the Koch brothers. Of Romney. Of Limbaugh and Hannity. Of fundogelicals. The party of morality and family values.

It is now an American value that people of color burn to death in house fires. That’s a family value today.

And it’s funny. Pricelessly funny.

Isn’t it?

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Afghanistan: The Little Brown Poor People Have Already Won
May 29, 2012

Did you ever take a close look at pictures of American soldiers trekking around Afghanistan? You’ll see guys humping fifty to a hundred pounds of gear.

And the ‘enemy’? Guys in Afghan street clothes carrying AKs.

Guess who won the war? Yup, the little guys with the funny hats and scruffy beards.

But, you say, it’s not over yet. How could they have won?

You might also ask yourself who the Americans are fighting. Al Qaeda? Pretty much gone ten years ago. The Taliban? Apparently, but they’re fighting a civil war, or will as soon as the Americans get out of the way. And then there’s the ‘suspected insurgents’ and the ‘suspected militants’. It’s never ‘insurgents’ or ‘militants’. And a good many of them are, didja notice, somewhere between the ages of just born to, oh, say, ten years old.

Of course the point for the Afghanis is that they are fighting on their home turf. They live there. They have a long history there. Long and bloody, but it’s their history and their land.

And really, the Americans, their supply line goes halfway around the world. And their lines of reasoning come straight from the rabbit hole. Ripping Afghanistan apart so that ‘terrorists can never use Afghanistan as a launching pad for attacks on the United States again.’ The Americans seem to have forgotten the attacks of 9/11 were launched from major American airports using American airplanes and the criminals were trained in American flight schools. Al Qaeda, or whoever, and it is increasingly obvious that the Americans are fighting whoever, doesn’t need Afghanistan. Or any particular country or place. A dining room table in Peoria, Illinois will serve just fine as a planning venue.

So not only do the Americans not know who they’re fighting, or why, but they’re being beaten. Ten years and Afghanistan just sinks deeper into corruption and violence. But that’s not the win.

The win for the ‘enemy’ is that the United States has spent well over a half a trillion dollars to date, and is on the hook for probably another trillion or more just to provide for the soldiers damaged in the fight. Add in another couple of trillion for the Iraq war.

So the United States is several trillion dollars in the hole, and counting, based on the whims and ignorance of a narcissistic, egotistical adolescent President named Bush and his amoral sidekick Cheney. And a smart guy, or maybe not so smart guy, named Obama continues to throw money into the snakepits of Afghanistan and corporate war profiteers in the United States.

And just how does that count for a win for the little brown guys with the AKs?

Because all the money could have gone to making the United States a stronger, safer country instead of a weak, mewling giant. It could have gone to building a first class education system instead of the existing failing system that’s being undermined by the ignorant fanatics the conservative movement has unleashed in America. That money could have gone to improving infrastructure, to building first class rail systems and urban transit systems. That money could have gone into massive investments in research and development and implementation of energy systems that could free the country from dependence on the oil and coal that are killing the world. That money could have gone to produce a first class healthcare system instead of a third rate insurance system that enriches CEOs at the cost of the lives and health of citizens.

But we have none of those things. Nor will we in the foreseeable future. Our Dear Leaders have decided it is better to fight a war and kill innocent foreign children than it is to risk the wrath of the conservatives, the know-nothings, the ignorant, the religious fanatics, and the rest of the blind ideologues who shout and stomp their feet and then vote for the candidates who appeal to their basest instincts.

The United States was once the place where people the world over aspired to go. It was thought to be the land of freedom and civility. Now, to aspire to become an American is to aspire to sink into a moral sewer.

So, yes, al Qaeda, or whoever, has won. The United States allowed al Qaeda, or whoever, to allow the United States to cut its own throat. And a fine job of it the United States has done.

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The American Dream, Visited…
January 13, 2012

One hears that phrase a lot, ‘the American Dream’, during the current financial crisis, usually by some pundit or expert on something or other noting that millions of people can no longer hope to achieve the American Dream.

So… anybody care to comment and explain just what the American Dream is? Or what you think it is? Or isn’t? And does it matter?

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